It takes a brave woman to swim against the tide. But Kelly Mitchley is determined to realise her ambitions and live her dreams, rather than worry about a shrinking racing industry and other stories of economic doom and gloom.
Officially South Africa’s newest racehorse trainer, Kelly Mitchley is now the Eastern Cape’s fourth lady conditioner and cannot wait to saddle her first runner at Fairview on 1 July.
Kelly, who only turns 26 on Monday 27 June, assures us she is no starry-eyed daydreamer who is cross with her cash and blundering forward.
“Some people have been taken aback and asked me if I have thought about the decision to open a yard. But I absolutely have, and I believe that I have the skills and experience to do something that I have always yearned to do,”she tells the Sporting Post in clearly determined tones.
The lifetime horsewoman runs a highly successful rehoming operation on her family’s De La Ranch, just 3km away from the Nelson Mandela Bay Racing headquarters. And her experience with a variety of trainers will stand her in good stead.
“I have worked for Justin Snaith, Corne Spies, Gavin Smith, and helped out at Yvette Bremner. More recently I worked for Johan Janse van Vuuren and we enjoyed our fair share of winners. They are all top trainers, but also all very varied in their methods and processes. I have tried hard to absorb all of their input, advice and knowledge, and have coupled this with my own experience and love and passion for the horse,”she explains.
Kelly follows a daily routine of riding work every morning at Fairview and then returns to De La Ranch Equestrian from 11h00 until 13h00. She returns to her yard from 14h00 to 16h00 every afternoon.
So nothing changes as she readies the former Rugg yard with her handful of horses. She will be assisted by her partner Kyle Paddock – son of former trainer Grant – and a young man who shares her passion for the horse and knows his way around the stable yard.
Her first runner looks likely to be the British-bred Hilarity, a former Justin Snaith charge, who is owned by SA Champion owner, Suzette Viljoen.
“Justin (Snaith) has been very helpful and I will be running her at Fairview on the turf on 1 July. I won’t have too much time with her as she is very well bred and destined for stud. But I am keen to make it a good start – and Mrs Viljoen, along with a few other top owners, has pledged her support. The reality is that we need supportive owners to make it in this game. I am a workaholic and this is not a job! I intend to do my very best for every horse, as I have always done.”
Kelly was still in the womb when her Mom bought her two ponies and a horse.
“As far back as I can remember, there has always been a love for horses, as I have come from a family that has always had horses. Both my Mum and late Dad used to ride. I can’t actually remember a time in my life having any other interests but horses. I started going to shows and I have had some really very special horses throughout my life.
The Westering High School graduate has her own house on De La Ranch and lives on the beautiful farm with her Mum and partner Clement, her sister Paige, and Mum’s ‘left and right hand’, Vonnie.
She tells that she got her foot into the racing door as her Mum had known former trainer Grant Paddock for many years.
“My friend Joshua Sutton and I went to stables before school to ride work every morning. I absolutely loved it! And then we all went to races one Friday at Arlington after school. I was hooked!” she laughs as she reflects back.
We wish her the best of luck and many winners!
- Kelly has boxes available – she may be contacted at 081 266 6763.